Arctic tern’s new world migration record

This video says about itself:

13 February 2013

We went to Antarctica to see the penguins, and we certainly did. But we saw so much more wildlife: orcas and elephant seals and leopard seals and many different seabirds. My favorite is the Arctic tern, a little bird that migrates farther every year than any other in the world… from the Antarctic to the Arctic, and back – 20,000 miles every year.

The video features, eg, gentoo penguins and blue-eyed cormorants.

I was privileged to see a wintering Arctic tern in the Antarctic as well.

From Zeenews:

Record-breaking! Arctic Tern makes longest annual migration, covers 59,650 miles

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 – 12:27

An Arctic Tern, one of the smallest sea-birds, made the longest ever annual migration between July 25th, 2015 to May 4th, 2016, covering a distance of 59,650 miles from their North-East [England; Farne islands] homes, according to The Guardian reports.

For the first time, scientists at Newcastle University in collaboration with BBC’s Springwatch have mapped the annual migration of Arctic Terns from Northumberland to Antarctica and back with the help of electronic tags fitted on their bodies.

Scientists revealed that the total distance covered by the tiny bird in its meandering journey is more than twice the circumference of the our home planet.

The bird, which weighs just 100g, left its breeding grounds last July and flew down the west coast of Africa, rounded the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean and arrived in Antarctica in November.

The previous record of 56,545 miles was also held by an Arctic Tern, who covered this distance on its polar flight from the Netherlands.

Rare white whales off English coast

This video says about itself:

Filmed by Deb Powis, this is one of two beluga whales spotted off Warkworth Beach, Northumberland on Monday August 31st 2015. A single beluga was first sighted in the area on the day before.

From the BBC:

Rare Beluga whales spotted off Northumberland coast

2 September 2015

Two rare beluga whales have been spotted off the Northumberland coast.

The Arctic whales were spotted in the sea off the coast of Warkworth beach on Monday by tourist Steve Powis.

He said he watched the animals from the coastline for an hour and he knew they were “quite obviously” belugas when he saw their distinctive white colouring and bulbous head.

Kathy James, sightings officer for Sea Watch Foundation, said it was a “surprise” to hear of the sightings.

Belugas are normally found at least 2,000 miles to the north, either around Greenland or in the Barents Sea.

In August, a beluga whale was sighted off the County Antrim coast near Dunseverick.

In 30 years there have only been 17 records of belugas in Britain and Ireland, the Sea Watch Foundation said.

English dipper news

This video is about juvenile and adult dippers.

By Tom Cadwallender in England, on Twitter today:

Fledgling dippers at Lesbury, #Northumberland. I’ve always suspected dipper breed this far down river Aln but first proof in 25 years.

English migratory birds news

This video is about snow buntings in Cornwall, on 28 January 2015. The birds are in winter plumage.

Today, Tom Cadwallender reports on Twitter from Boulmer, Northumberland in England that thirty snow buntings are present there.

Also, small groups of migrating little auks are passing there.

Bringing back British water voles

This video from Britain is called Wildwood Water Vole Rescue Centre.

From Wildlife Extra:

Plan to return water voles to Kielder Forest underway

Experts bid to pave the way for Ratty‘s return

January 2013. Conservationists in Northumberland are working on a plan which could result in water voles being returned to 62,000 hectare (155,000 acre) Kielder Water & Forest Park.

Wiped out by mink

The endangered species was once a familiar sight in the Northumberland Forest until predatory mink invaded its stronghold and wiped out the population. The last local sightings of water vole go back to the 1970s.

Now the Forestry Commission has linked up with the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Tyne Rivers Trust to devise a two year project to survey the forest to see if mink remain and to look for traces of lingering water vole populations. Initial discussions have been held with the Heritage Fund about potentially funding the work.

Mink disappearing – Probably due to otters return

Mink numbers at Kielder are now thought to be very low with few being spotted by rangers in recent years. One reason for their decline may be the expanding otter population as the two species do not co-exist, although no one knows the mechanics of the frosty relationship.

Tom Dearnley, Forestry Commission Ecologist, explained: “Areas like Kielder Burn and the North Tyne are good water vole habitats so we have a two part plan which will hopefully see them return to former haunts. First we need to establish whether any mink remain as this was the reason for their previous decline. That is what this initial project is all about. Then we can look to a future scheme which would see wild water voles relocated to Kielder as part of a wider North East reintroduction project. Kielder offers suitable havens for a huge range of wildlife, from ospreys to wild goats. Water voles have suffered big declines across England, so returning them to the forest is something we are extremely keen to see happen.”

If the projects gains funding the survey will search for mink through sightings, droppings and using floating rafts which mink climb aboard to investigate, leaving behind tell-tale footprints.

Steve Lowe, from the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, added: “It’s also vital we work with landowners so we can collate signs of mink in the wider area and so we can survey as far downstream as possible. We have set the scene by doing botanical surveys and landscape modelling and we know that the area still offers suitable habitat with good water quality and grassy riverside edges where voles can feed. A similar project has been undertaken in the Cairngorms, which like Kielder saw its water voles decimated by mink. Here the creature has made an impressive come-back so that is very encouraging. If we do get to the release stage we know from tests on North East water voles that they share similar DNA to past populations so animals relocated to Kielder will be the same genetic strain has those driven out by mink.”

The water vole is a step nearer being reintroduced back into the Kielder Forest in Northumberland thanks to a £40,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund: here.

Marsh harriers are back in Northumberland, England

This is a marsh harrier video.

From The Journal in Widdrington, England:

Historic bird of prey hatching at East Chevington

Aug 26, 09 09:24 AM in News

Another historic bird of prey hatching has taken place in Northumberland. The first confirmed breeding of marsh harriers in the county since the early 1880s occurred at Druridge Bay.

The four chicks fledged at Northumberland Wildlife Trust‘s East Chevington reserve, a remarkable turnaround on what was once an opencast mining site.

The marsh harrier success comes not long after the success with ospreys, who have bred in Northumberland for the first time in more than 200 years.

The marsh harrier was once a widespread bird in the United Kingdom, but persecution severely reduced numbers in the late 19th century.

And the return of the birds to Northumberland is a boost for the restoration efforts at East Chevington.

Since the 1990s, the former opencast mining site has been transformed into a mosaic of wetland, woodland and rough grassland.

It also includes the biggest area of reed beds in the county, with 35 acres being planted on the 300-acre site, which is adjacent to Druridge Bay Country Park.

“The marsh harrier breeding is fantastic news and is a vindication of the vision for the East Chevington nature reserve,” said the Wildlife Trust’s head of land management Duncan Hutt. “The reed beds where the chicks were hatched are attracting a growing number of birds.

“In addition to marsh harriers, reed bunting and sedge warblers are breeding and the reed beds are attracting an increasing number of bitterns [see also here] in winter.

“We are working closely with local bird recorders to ensure the safety of the chicks, but also to monitor the success of other birds.” Longbenton-based ornithologist Ian Fisher, who helped plant the first reeds, said: “It is tremendous to have these birds breeding again in Northumberland after 130 years.

“The marsh harriers and the ospreys are a brilliant addition to the bird life of the county.”

The hatching is also a boost to the vision for the land bordering the bay as a wildlife-rich attraction, with the former Hauxley opencast site now a reserve plus Druridge Bay Country Park, Druridge Pools reserve and Cresswell.


THE RSPB will today brand Northumberland as a blackspot for persecution of birds of prey.

The RSPB’s bird crime report of 2008 has nine incidents regarding birds of prey in the county which were reported to the conservation charity, including illegal shootings and the use of poison.

The only counties with a worse record were North Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

Confirmed crimes in the North East include a kestrel shot dead in April in Northumberland, two shot in County Durham in July, and the discovery of four poisoned pheasant eggs left as bait on the edge of a Cleveland grouse moor.

Ian West, RSPB head of investigations, said: “It is absurd that the Government lists the killing of birds of prey as a wildlife crime priority and yet these crimes are not recorded by the Home Office.”

Grey-necked bunting: here.

BirdLife has learnt that a widely available poison is being used to kill thousands of birds illegally every month in an area of Kenya, and by game poachers in Botswana to kill vultures. The poisoning of wildlife seems to have increased across Africa recently, and BirdLife International is calling for increased concerted efforts to address this threat: here.